Matthew 13:1-9

The Parable of the Sower

13:1 On that day after Jesus went out of the house, he sat by the lake. 13:2 And such a large crowd gathered around him that he got into a boat to sit while the whole crowd stood on the shore. 13:3 He told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. 13:4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 13:5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground where they did not have much soil. They sprang up quickly because the soil was not deep. 13:6 But when the sun came up, they were scorched, and because they did not have sufficient root, they withered. 13:7 Other seeds fell among the thorns, 10  and they grew up and choked them. 11  13:8 But other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundred times as much, some sixty, and some thirty. 13:9 The one who has ears had better listen!” 12 

Matthew 13:18-23

13:18 “So listen to the parable of the sower: 13:19 When anyone hears the word about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one 13  comes and snatches what was sown in his heart; 14  this is the seed sown along the path. 13:20 The 15  seed sown on rocky ground 16  is the person who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy. 13:21 But he has no root in himself and does not endure; 17  when 18  trouble or persecution comes because of the word, immediately he falls away. 13:22 The 19  seed sown among thorns is the person who hears the word, but worldly cares and the seductiveness of wealth 20  choke the word, 21  so it produces nothing. 13:23 But as for the seed sown on good soil, this is the person who hears the word and understands. He bears fruit, yielding a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown.” 22 


tn Grk “and all the crowd.” The clause in this phrase, although coordinate in terms of grammar, is logically subordinate to the previous clause.

tn Here καί (kai) has not been translated.

sn Though parables can contain a variety of figures of speech (cf. the remainder of chapter 13), many times they are simply stories that attempt to teach spiritual truth (which is unknown to the hearers) by using a comparison with something known to the hearers. In general, parables usually advance a single idea, though there may be many parts and characters in a single parable and subordinate ideas may expand the main idea further. The beauty of using the parable as a teaching device is that it draws the listener into the story, elicits an evaluation, and demands a response.

tn Grk “Behold.”

sn A sower went out to sow. The background for this well-known parable, drawn from a typical scene in the Palestinian countryside, is a field through which a well-worn path runs. Sowing would occur in late fall or early winter (October to December) in the rainy season, looking for sprouting in April or May and a June harvest. The use of seed as a figure for God’s giving life has OT roots (Isa 55:10-11). The point of the parable of the sower is to illustrate the various responses to the message of the kingdom of God.

tn In Matthew’s version of this parable, plural pronouns are used to refer to the seed in v. 4 (αὐτά [Jaauta]), although the collective singular is used in v. 5 and following (indicated by the singular verbs like ἔπεσεν [epesen]). For the sake of consistency in English, plural pronouns referring to the seed are used in the translation throughout the Matthean account. In both Mark and Luke the collective singular is used consistently throughout (cf. Mark 4:1-9; Luke 8:4-8).

tn Here and in vv. 7 and 8 δέ (de) has not been translated.

sn The rocky ground in Palestine would be a limestone base lying right under the soil.

tn Grk “it did not have enough depth of earth.”

10 sn Palestinian weeds like these thorns could grow up to six feet in height and have a major root system.

11 sn That is, crowded out the good plants.

12 tn The translation “had better listen!” captures the force of the third person imperative more effectively than the traditional “let him hear,” which sounds more like a permissive than an imperative to the modern English reader. This was Jesus’ common expression to listen and heed carefully (cf. Matt 11:15, 13:43; Mark 4:9, 23; Luke 8:8, 14:35).

13 sn Interestingly, the synoptic parallels each use a different word for Satan here: Mark 4:15 has “Satan,” while Luke 8:12 has “the devil.” This illustrates the fluidity of the gospel tradition in often using synonyms at the same point of the parallel tradition.

14 sn The word of Jesus has the potential to save if it germinates in a person’s heart, something the devil is very much against.

15 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.

16 tn Grk “The one sown on rocky ground, this is the one.” The next two statements like this one have this same syntactical structure.

17 tn Grk “is temporary.”

18 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.

19 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.

20 tn Grk “the deceitfulness of riches.” Cf. BDAG 99 s.v. ἀπάτη 1, “the seduction which comes from wealth.”

21 sn That is, their concern for spiritual things is crowded out by material things.

22 tn The Greek is difficult to translate because it switches from a generic “he” to three people within this generic class (thus, something like: “Who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one instance a hundred times, in another, sixty times, in another, thirty times”).